MINNEAPOLIS — The Texas Rangers started Sunday as the only team in the majors that hadn’t lost two games in a row this season.
That streak is over after Kevin Correia pitched eight sharp innings, Justin Morneau homered and the Minnesota Twins beat Texas 5-0.
The only runs the Rangers scored in the two losses came when Minnesota center fielder Aaron Hicks lost a two-out fly ball in the ninth inning in the sun Saturday.
“It’s hard to win when you don’t score any runs,” Texas catcher A.J. Pierzynski said. “We really didn’t have a lot of opportunities.”
The Rangers’ best chance came when Elvis Andrus and Lance Berkman singled to open the fourth. Correia struck out Adrian Beltre and retired Pierzynski and Nelson Cruz on grounders.
“Getting balls hit to people right now,” Correia said. “Very easily, when you go out there and get balls put in play a lot like I do, sometimes those things can find a hole. Right now it’s just going my way.”
Texas closed out a 5-3 trip and ended a stretch in which they played 14 of 17 games on the road.
“The off-day is definitely needed,” manager Ron Washington said. “This is the big leagues. You can’t be complaining about the schedule. We’re not going to make any excuses.”
Before their two straight setbacks, the Rangers hadn’t lost at Minnesota since June 12, 2011. With Sunday’s loss, the Rangers were forced to settle for a split of the four-game series against the Twins.
Correia (3-1) gave up six hits, struck out two and walked one. He allowed only one runner to reach third base while lowering his ERA to 2.23.
Correia has pitched at least seven innings in each of his first five starts for the Twins after going seven or more only three times all of last season.
The soft-tossing veteran signed a two-year, $10 million contract with Minnesota in the offseason and has been the Twins’ best starter. Using a fastball that rarely broke 90 mph and a variety of offspeed pitches, Correia retired his first seven batters and set down 11 of the last 12.
Alexi Ogando (2-2) allowed three runs on four hits over six innings.
Ogando looked just as sharp as Correia before walking Josh Willingham in the sixth. On the very next pitch, Ogando hung a slider and Morneau lined it into the right-field bleachers for his second home run, giving the Twins a 3-0 lead.
“I had pretty good command of the pitches, I was being too careful, too cautious (against Willingham),” Ogando said through a translator.
Pittsburgh 9, St. Louis 0: ST. LOUIS — Rookie Jeff Locke pitched seven innings of three-hit ball and Russell Martin had two of Pittsburgh’s four home runs in a 9-0 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals on Sunday that gave the Pirates a series win and the NL Central lead.
Jones had three hits and John McDonald added an RBI double for Pittsburgh, which ended rookie Shelby Miller’s streak of 14 scoreless innings at home to start the season. The Pirates have won nine of 12 overall, leapfrogging St. Louis for first place.
Locke (3-1) has worked 13 scoreless innings while allowing five hits his last two starts. The Cardinals got just three singles and advanced two runners into scoring position against the 25-year-old left-hander, who earned the fifth spot in the rotation with a strong spring.
Justin Wilson allowed a walk the last two innings to wrap up the Pirates’ fifth shutout, tied for the league lead with St. Louis and San Francisco.
Miller (3-2) struggled to put away hitters and was taken out after 113 pitches and giving up two homers in 5 2-3 innings.
Red Sox 6, Astros 1: BOSTON — John Lackey returned from the disabled list and pitched six solid innings, David Ortiz drove in two more runs and the Boston Red Sox matched a team record with its 18th win in April by beating the Houston Astros 6-1 Sunday for a four-game sweep.
Lackey (1-1) missed all of last season recovering from Tommy John surgery and went on the DL after leaving his first start this year with a strained right biceps. He allowed five hits, struck out four and walked two. The two walks came with two outs in the first and cost Lackey his only run.
Stephen Drew hit a two-run triple and Ortiz had two hits, extending his hitting streak to 20 games dating back to last Season. Ortiz has 11 RBIs and is batting .516 in eight games since returning to the lineup last weekend.